In which our hero travels back in time to a more innocent chapter in his life…and it breaks his heart.
Slash was excited about the new house. It was bigger, had more land around it and more importantly it already had a recording studio, which was about five times bigger than the one in this house. He was still going to miss the good times he had here. Chasing his boys around the house and knocking over lamps and vases, which drove Perla crazy and when they had the house to themselves, having sex with his wife on every couch and table in the building. He even recorded some guitar parts for Libertad in this house. Many a good time was definitely had here.
He gently lowered the pile of photo albums into the box. As he took more off the shelf one of them slipped out of his hand and fell onto the floor, opening at a page full of old photos of Guns N' Roses. He picked up the photo album and decided to get himself into a comfortable position on the floor and flick through it.
It seemed to be from about 1986. They had just formed a year prior and were now in the midst of their gig days on the Sunset Strip. Slash cringed as he scanned over pictures of himself wearing lipstick and nail polish. As he neared the end of the album he started giggling to himself. It was a picture he hadn't seen in a long time.
The photo was of Slash with his arms wrapped around Axl, back when he actually liked the guy. Both men were smiling and Axl was wearing Slash's top hat. The singer didn't have a mass of wild curls like his friend to keep the hat up on his head so he was holding it up at the rim with one hand, his other arm wrapped around Slash. They looked like complete goofballs and for that reason Slash loved this picture.
Slash turned the page but found that it was the last one. He did however find a surprise hidden in the photo album. Nestled in a rectangular shaped hollow in the back cover of the album was a videotape. Slash pried it out of its hiding place and set the photo album down on the floor. He examined the tape in his hands for a moment, trying to think of what it could be. He flipped it over to read the label.
Guns N' Fuckin' Roses! The most awesome band in the universe!
The optimistic title was written in ink that had faded with time but Slash could still see that the handwriting belonged to Duff.
He was itching to see what this was. He couldn't remember this video at all. Maybe it was footage of them playing a gig? He got up and looked around at the other cardboard boxes until he found the one he was looking for. He pulled the tape off it and opened the box. Inside he found four DVD players and a VCR. Although videos were a thing of the past Slash insisted on keeping the VCR. Just in case.
He carried the VCR and the videotape into the large living room, which consisted of no furniture except for a TV stand and a huge, widescreen, plasma television. This TV, the huge refrigerator in the kitchen and all the beds were still in the house. Lucky for Slash, these had yet to be removed by the moving people.
He hooked up the VCR, slipped the tape inside and sat in front of the huge TV, crossed legged on the cold wooden floor and switched the TV on.
After a few moments of static, the dirty carpet of a living room came into view. The camera shook and jerked for a few seconds and Duffs voice could be heard. He must have been the one operating it.
"Is it working? How do I know if it's working?" He asked.
Slash smiled at his dopey bassist.
"Is the little red light on?" Axl's voice came from somewhere off camera.
"Oh yeah it is! Ok, ok, here we go!" Duff said excitedly.
The camera moved up to reveal a much younger looking Axl and Slash sitting on the couch, big smiles on their faces.
"Hello world!" Slash waved at the camera.
"Hey!" Axl added.
"Is that it? Introduce yourselves you assholes!" Duff ordered.
Axl rolled his eyes.
"No one's gonna see this anyway!" The singer pointed out.
"Everybody's going to see this! I'm making this a feature length! 'Guns N' Roses: The Movie!' Now introduce yourselves."
"I'm Axl!" Said Slash.
"And I'm Slash!" Said Axl.
"So what are we supposed to talk about in this movie?" Slash asked.
"I didn't think of that." Duff replied, "Um...talk about what you wish to achieve in life!"
"I want to take over the world!" Axl exclaimed.
"Yeah me too!"
"Slash we can't both take over the world." Axl informed his friend, "We'd have to fight eachother!"
"Oh I don't want to fight you Axl. You can have the world!"
That last reply made Slash laugh out loud. He used to be such a push over.
"I meant what do you wish to achieve in life...with this band." Said Duff.
"Um..." Axl thought for a second, "Take over the world."
"Yeah me too! And if we do it as a band we won't have to fight!" Slash piped up.
Just then a blonde head appeared in front of the lens and blocked out the other two.
"Steven get your head out of the shot! This is a movie about the band!" Said Duff.
Steven's expression fell and he sulked for a moment.
"I'm in the band too." He quietly said.
The drummer was pulled backwards onto Axl's lap and the singer spoke to him like he was a child.
"You'll be in the movie too Stevie, just not in this bit. Later on ok?"
The drummer smiled sweetly at his friend and nodded. He jumped off Axl's knee and skipped away.
Slash smiled at the drummer on screen. He used to be so adorable before the drugs.
"Where were we?" Duff asked, "Ah yes, Guns will be taking over the world. Slash, why do you think this band is good enough?"
"Well," The guitarist began, "We have the coolest guy in L.A. as a guitar player, that is, Izzy, a monkey on the drums, a punk on the bass, some nobody on the other guitar and of course, we have the greatest singer in the history of time! Axl Rose!"
He started whooping and cheering, making the singers cheeks turn red.
"Aww shucks Slash!" Axl said, "I'm not the one all the other bands are trying to steal."
"Yes you are!" Slash pointed out.
The two friends on the TV started giggling like children. They seemed so happy and at peace with eachother in the video. Slash kind of wished Axl was here to watch this but then quickly cursed himself for thinking so.
"Are we going to be the greatest band ever?" Asked Duff, egging on his band mates.
"Yeah we are!" Axl shouted out.
"We're going to be better than fucking Led Zeppelin!" Slash added.
"Better than Queen!"
"Better than Aerosmith!"
"Better than the Stones!"
"The Stones?" Duff interrupted, "You think we'll be together as long as the Stones?"
Axl and Slash looked at eachother and thought for a moment before smiling.
"Longer than the Stones!" They chorused.
Hindsight made Slash's stomach do a back flip as he watched his more hopeful younger self.
"Guns N' Roses are going to be together forever! Cheesy as it sounds!" Axl announced, wrapping an arm around Slash's shoulder.
"How do you know that?" Duff asked, making his friends' smiles fade a little, "People change with fame. Egos get bigger, money takes over and bands break up."
The ominous warnings of his old friend in the video made Slash's heart drop. The irony was getting too heavy to handle.
"That won't happen to us." The singer said in a quiet tone.
Axl's eyes had become dark with determination that these things would not happen to him and his band. Slash recognised something else in his former friend's eyes. Fear. The guitarist felt a shiver pierce through his body making him wrap his arms around himself.
"That's not going to happen to us because we're all best friends." Slash added, "We love eachother too much to let stupid things like fame and money get in the way of our friendship."
"But Slash it's happened to so many bands in the past." Duff said softly.
"Slaaaash!" Izzy bellowed from somewhere in the house.
"Where's my guitar?"
Slash looked to Axl and Duff with a worried look on his face.
"I'll be right back!"
He dashed out of the shot leaving Axl on his own.
Slash bit his lip as he remembered what he had done to that guitar. Izzy was so pissed. He shook the thoughts from his head though. He was about to find out if Axl had bitched about him after he left.
"You say the other bands have been trying to steal Slash from us?" Duff asked.
"What would you do if that was to happen?"
Slash saw that fear briefly flash through those green eyes again. He ignored it and was now sure that Axl was about to suggest a replacement.
"I'd be really upset."
Axl's voice was almost inaudible and rather than just turning up the volume, Slash crawled forward so that he was sitting inches away from Axl's face on the TV screen. He wasn't expecting that answer.
"What would be worse? Slash leaving the band now? Or Slash leaving the band after we'd made amazing albums that sold worldwide and become rich and famous?"
Slash held his breath and waited. Axl's voice was near silent now.
"Either way, Slash would be gone."
Tears pricked the corners of Slash's eyes and he furiously wiped them away.
"What do you think he would do if you left him?"
Slash grinned. The question was now turned on Axl.
"I'd never leave Slash."
His grin disappeared and his heart melted. Flashbacks of arguing with Axl back in 1996 came flooding back to him, Axl pleading with him to stay and Slash just turning his back on him.
The tape started flickering and the sound became distorted. There was a loud static noise over Duff and Axl's voices. Slash turned the volume up this time only making the chaotic sound get louder. He leaned in even closer to hear what Axl was going to say next.
"What would you do if he walked out on you?"
Slash could just about make out what they were saying. The video began to flicker again and the guitarist banged his hand against the VCR willing it to work. The picture just got worse and flickered like mad but the sound got a little clearer. Slash's nose was now almost touching the flashing screen.
"I don't know what I'd do. He's my best friend! He's been there for me through..."
The video started going in and out of sound and Slash stared at the flickering Axl on screen, tears slowly flowing down his cheeks.
"...die if he...I wouldn't do...even if he left me I'd still..."
More memories of the time he left Guns N' Roses flashed through his mind. Axl begging him not to leave and telling him he was sorry, answering machine messages from Axl that Slash didn't even listen to, Axl on his knees with his face hidden in his hands, tears flowing through his fingers.
Slash's body gently trembled as he cried but he couldn't take his eyes off the screen. The picture was deteriorating rapidly.
"But Axl, what if..."
"I know...but no matter...I'll always love him."
A tiny smiled graced Axl's beautiful face and his eyes sparkled before the picture turned to black and white static. Slash just stared at the screen, silently crying. His heart felt heavy with regret now and he wished Axl were sitting there next to him. He thought back to the image of Axl's tear stained face, his green eyes wide and glazed. Back then Slash didn't feel any remorse towards him. Axl was the bad guy, Axl had driven him to near suicide, Axl forced him to leave. But now Slash felt like shit. He had walked away from his best friend. Turned his back and just left him.
The flickering light of the TV illuminated the dark room with a dim white glow, casting Slash's shadow across the room as he sat on the floor on his knees with his face buried in his hands, tear drops trickling through his fingers.